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World Music Harry Sword , September 13th, 2012 04:08

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'World music' is a loaded term. Taken a certain way (late 80s Womad, say), it evokes dainty divisionism – 'world' encompassing pretty much anything that may fall outside the established rock & roll continuum. On the other hand it means music. Listening to Goat's debut LP ensures the title makes absolute sense: primal, pulsating sound that uncorks the elemental to miraculous effect. Goat draw fascinating dots between psych, krautrock, doom and disco. Imagine Amon Düül, Electric Wizard and Roy Ayers collaborating in a ganja-wreathed 70s summer Harlem brownstone on a lost soundtrack to a Kenneth Anger film. You won't be far off – hard driving analogue freak music, real hotness.

The product of one of the more curious – and very possibly spurious – back-stories of the past few years (band form in supposedly 'cursed' voodoo Swedish backwater of Korpilombolo, get well acquainted with the rhythmic arts) Goat are a band out of time. However, one gets the feeling that – much like Electric Wizard or Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, say – the outward 70s obsession is no mere kitsch dalliance but more a fertile layline connecting the vibe that keeps on giving to the present, and a heartfelt reflection of what genuinely turns these musicians on.

Indeed, the very fact that Goat have managed to reference the most readily identifiable audio outposts of 70s counterculture in one record without sounding camp, trite or silly is highly impressive. So it is that raw disco licks nestle against hard fuzz tones, plinking tablas and audacious sax solos are layered happily betwixt whacka guitars and echo-laden vocal chants. The overall effect is seedy, funky, simply life affirming: and if it plays this vital on a drizzly Sunday night, lord knows what it'll sound like outdoors with a belly full of Guinness and shrooms.

Instrumental opener 'Diarabi' has an admirably strong New Wave Of British Heavy Metal accent – the opening riff could (if sped up a little) comfortably fit with early Maiden or Angel Witch. The virtuoso pulse is though – as elsewhere - pure Can, staggered, drunken and swung. 'Goatman', meanwhile, is voodoo sex music, and powerfully infectious at that.  

That a majority of the nine tracks here come in at under five minutes gives some indication as to Goat's hotheaded intent. 'Disco Fever' is mania, a clear incantation for elemental movement; 'Run To Your Mama' is a fevered two minutes of furious bongo-fuelled Sabbacana. The production value throughout is fittingly warm – no doubt the product of cranky, hotch-potch kit – but although vehemently analogue, this LP is by no means a lo-fi exercise. World Music has surely passed through the ears of a serious mastering engineer, sounding at points – the psych freak-out section in 'Goathead', for example – like it could comfortably go up against Death Magnetic in the loudness war stakes.

Goat has distilled what could have so very easily become an overblown meandering jam fest into a punchy, forceful and infectious masterpiece of cosmic rock & roll – the will is palpable, nigh a trace of fat on these bleached bones. Elemental fire music from the land of the midnight sun, pure incantations to ye gods of rock & roll. Watch out!

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Sep 13, 2012 8:44am

WM is a great album and my current #1 for driving to.

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Mr Love Provider
Sep 16, 2012 1:01pm

Their's sounds like a world truly of it's own meaning 'World Music' in the broadest possible sense, which it does mean as it's an absurdly far-reaching way of saying 'ill-understood otherness'

I must get my filthy paws on this record!

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David Bell
Sep 17, 2012 11:31am

In reply to Mr Love Provider:

I'd say that pretending to come from a Vodoo village in Sweden (as Goat do) is 'ill-understood otherness'. Whether this is kitsch or heartfelt (and that's not necessarily a binary) I don't know, but given that Haitian Vodou and Louisianan Vodoo have played important roles in black resistance to colonial rule and the slave trade (aside from the US, Haiti was the first colony to free itself from colonial rule), it smacks of a privileged dabbling in exotic weirdness. Stripping these traditions of their social and political context is highly questionable, not least when it's done to give your band a USP.

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John Doran
Sep 17, 2012 11:47am

In reply to David Bell:

But only a fool would confuse the 'voodoo' of rock & roll, horror and trash culture with the actual Haitian Voudun religion, so where's the problem? There are other white 'privileged' rock groups such as Pombagira who know a great deal about these traditional creole religions if you're looking for something a bit more respectful by the way.

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Sep 17, 2012 2:23pm

In reply to David Bell:

I would have to agree with you, in that this stuff is OK
but I prefer the proper stuff, as-it-wer.

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Sep 20, 2012 4:50am

In reply to David Bell:

Everyone agrees with you /s. What is your point? Because slavery was horrible musicians 200+ years later have to put aside their influence if it isnt in line with their religion or race? Fuck off. you are a human. you were born, somewhere. You most likley were interested in music. If you were me you were about 4 or 5 and you liked Marshall Crenshaw or Michael Jackson or elvis. If you weren't you liked the beatles or bob dylan or fela kuti or whoever. You may have grown up and appreciated Beethoven, and Buxtehude, maybe you are interested in Tan Dun, most likley you adore Tom Waits. These are pretty cool records. How is the Goat record "Stripping these traditions of their social and political context?" What traditions are you holding to? You read like an idiot.

I stopped writing. I am starting over. I disagree with David Bell

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Seth Kim-Cohen
Dec 30, 2012 7:26pm

Just wanting to offer a bit of ballast to balance the floaty opinion of Goat offered here. While Harry Sword astutely identifies some of the touchstones of the music, he overlooks an important flaw. And allow me to preface this by saying I've never had so stark a response to the issue at which I'm about to point a finger. Here it is: The drumming on this album is abominable. What might have been a great band with potentially devastating grooves is converted by the leaden drumming into a bag of poop dropped from the third story onto the warm pavement of a June afternoon. The drummer is too busy by half and can't seem to find the sweet rhythmic spots in what the rest of the band are doing. Again, I've never had a response this strong and specific to a band. Trade this drummer in for one with some feel and you've got the makings of a great band. With this guy at the kit, frankly I can't listen to the album. It feels like tripping over the same crack in the pavement again and again. Maddening.

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